Favourite Political Moment

1. Katz leaves office
2. Robert-Falcon Oullette existing
3. Brian Bowman being elected

In politics, one person’s decision can often have unexpected consequences. By choosing to leave office rather than run for re-election, former Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz may have helped set in motion a series of events that dramatically altered politics in our province.

After announcing in late June 2014 that he wouldn’t run for another term, Katz left the mayor’s race without an incumbent candidate. Katz’s absence from the race created a vacuum in the centre and centre-right vote - a vacuum that may not have been as wide had Katz ran - which current Mayor Brian Bowman successfully filled.

Bowman was elected in a substantial victory over NDP affiliated candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis - who had finished second to Katz in 2010.

Bowman’s victory appeared to exacerbate fears within some segments of the Manitoba NDP - increasing doubts about their ability to win the next provincial election with Premier Greg Selinger at the helm.

This growing fear seems to have played a part in contributing to the resignations of five members of the Manitoba Cabinet - which in turn added momentum to the push for an NDP leadership contest - a contest which features Theresa Oswald and Steve Ashton challenging Premier Selinger.

It’s impossible to say what would have happened had Katz run for another term. While Sam Katz clearly didn’t cause the PST hike and is not directly responsible for the current turmoil within the Manitoba NDP, by choosing to leave office rather than seek another term as mayor, he may have contributed to the events that have so thoroughly shaken up the political scene.

Part of the series: The Uniter 30

Published in Volume 69, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 7, 2015)

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